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Thread: Epirotes - Their ethnic affinity

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    Super Moderator Cincinnatus's Avatar
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    Epirotes - Their ethnic affinity

    I received many requests for creating a new topic, which would deal with ancient Epirotes and their identity. Let the following thread be the place of your thoughts on the ancient identity of Epirotes...
    Strength and honor!

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    Moderator SuperHellenas's Avatar
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    Re: Epirotes - Their ethnic affinity

    From the inscriptions found in Dodona site, linguists agree the Epirotes were speakers of an epichoric Northwest Greek dialect.

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    Newbie stonelog's Avatar
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    Re: Epirotes - Their ethnic affinity

    At least the ruling family of Epirotes had Greek roots. The Aeacidae claimed descent from Achilles. Olympias, wife of Philip II of Macedon and mother of Alexander the Great, was an Aeacidae princess.

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    Moderator GeoMacedon's Avatar
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    Re: Epirotes - Their ethnic affinity

    Linguistically they were Greeks, but very primitive ones. We must look at Epirotes as backward Greeks.

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    Progressing Member Kafir Bey's Avatar
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    Re: Epirotes - Their ethnic affinity

    As a modern researcher has remarked, it's hard to maintain that Epirotes were a distinct people from Illyrians and Greeks. Some give a great deal of emphasis at the great extension of Greek, as was the case of inscriptions. But this carry no weight at all since at that period it was somehow fashionable to adopt Greek names under the growing influence of Greek colonies, which were erected especially at the Ambracia Bay. Even the ruling elite of Epirots was willing to adopt certain aspects of Greek culture. Yet, Epirotes did not fully succumb to the Hellenization as long as Greeks did not regard them as genuinely Greeks. Most of ancient sources dismiss as "barbarian", which account for their non-Greek being. It should be noted that Greek culture made little advance in interior Epirus, which remained largely non-Greek.
    Last edited by Kafir Bey; 2012-09-25 at 12:05 AM.

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    Progressing Member Nexhman's Avatar
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    Re: Epirotes - Their ethnic affinity

    Quote Originally Posted by stonelog View Post
    At least the ruling family of Epirotes had Greek roots. The Aeacidae claimed descent from Achilles. Olympias, wife of Philip II of Macedon and mother of Alexander the Great, was an Aeacidae princess.
    I would query that assumption on the ground that the ruling family in Epirus invented such myths as to facilitate the entrance in Greek world. I'm not questioning that Aecides embraced some Hellenic patterns, but the same goes also for other ruling elites among barbarian peoples in Mediterranean. Ancient sources makes it explicit that Epirot kings introduced Greek elements into their court.

    Had Epirus been Greek from the very inception, as some wants to make it out, ancients would not question his Hellenicity. During all the time, Epirotes were markedly different from Greeks, albeit a number of them got Hellenized. The claim that Epirotes have been Greeks does not reconcile with ancient sources, who constantly excluded them from Greeks either ethnically and geographically. The fact they received some Hellenism from 5th century B.C onward plainly means that they were non-Greeks, most likely Illyrians or cognates of them.

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    Progressing Member Nexhman's Avatar
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    Re: Epirotes - Their ethnic affinity

    I shall present scraps which shred some light on the ethnicity of Epirots. It has been argued that the origin of Epirotes hark back to the pre-Hellenic inhabitants of Greeks, i.e Pelasgians (even though such a term is very murky).

    Strabo Geography Book V Chapter 2, 4:

    And many have called also the tribes of Epirus "Pelasgian," because in their opinion the Pelasgi extended their rule even as far as that. And, further, because many of the heroes were called "Pelasgi" by name, the people of later times have, from those heroes, applied the name to many of the tribes; for example, they have called the island of Lesbos "Pelasgia," and Homer has called "Pelasgi" the people that were neighbours to those Cilicians who lived in the Troad...
    The following piece of Thucydides reflects the hostile skirmishes between Epirotes and the Greek world:

    Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War 2.80.1:

    The Hellenic troops with him consisted of the Ambraciots, Leucadians, and Anactorians, and the thousand Peloponnesians with whom he came; the barbarian of a thousand Chaonians, who, belonging to a nation that has no king, were led by Photius and Nicanor, the two members of the royal family to whom the chieftainship for that year had been confided. With the Chaonians came also some Thesprotians, like them without a king, [6] some Molossians and Atintanians led by Sabylinthus, the guardian of king Tharyps who was still a minor, and some Paravaeans, under their King Oroedus, accompanied by a thousand Orestians, subjects of King Antiochus and placed by him under the command of Oroedus. [7] There were also a thousand Macedonians sent by Perdiccas without the knowledge of the Athenians, but they arrived too late.
    Thus far, the Athenian historian distinguishes Epirotic tribes from Greeks, implying that Epirotes were non Greeks. The same author noticed that Epirotes received Greek from the nearby colony of Ambracia:

    . Under the pressure of misfortune many generations afterwards, they called in the Ambraciots, their neighbours on the Amphilochian border, to join their colony; and it was by this union with the Ambraciots that they learnt their present Hellenic speech, the rest of the Amphilochians being barbarians.
    I don't get how Epirotes would learn Greek if they had spoken "archaic" Greek from the very inception? That surely infers that Epirotes language wasn't Greek.

    Strabo the Geographer sees Gulf of Ambracia as the beginning of Greece, thus excluding all Epirus from Greece. His account relies on early observations made by sailors who traversed Adriatic and Ionian. Even the famous Ephorus is often cited by him.

    Then, beginning at the Ambracian Gulf, all the districts which, one after another, incline towards the east and stretch parallel to the Peloponnesus belong to Greece]...
    While ancient sailor left Epirus, he recognized immediately the Acarnanians Greeks:

    Next comes the mouth of the Ambracian Gulf. Although the mouth of this gulf is but slightly more than four stadia wide, the circumference is as much as three hundred stadia; and it has good harbours everywhere. That part of the country which is on the right as one sails in is inhabited by the Greek Acarnanians.
    If Strabo thought Epirotes as Greeks, then why he restricted such a term only to Acarnanians?

    The list of similar questions is long. Suffices to say that Greek ethnicity of Epirotes is of no account.

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    Progressing Member Kafir Bey's Avatar
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    Re: Epirotes - Their ethnic affinity

    Good collection of first-hand quotes, Nexhman!

    Something that must be seriously taken into consideration is the absence of Mycenean culture in Epirus. Even if the Myceneans were close to Proto-Greeks (though it's very suspicious), Epirus lie outside the sphere of such a culture.

    K. A. Wardle, "Mycenaean Trade and Influence in Northern Greece," in C. Zerner, P. Zerner, and J. Winder (eds.), Wace and Blegen, Pottery as Evidence for Trade in the Aegean Bronze Age: 1939-1989 (Amsterdam 1993), p. 117: "Neither Macedonia nor Epirus to the west were ever part of Mycenaean Greece".
    Even the account (which has been attributed to Ps-Scylax) clearly separate Epirus from Greece:

    33. AMBRAKIA. And after Molottia, Ambrakia, a Hellenic city: and this is distant from sea 80 stades. And there is also upon the sea a fort and an enclosed harbor. From here Hellas begins to be continuous as far as Peneios river and Homolion, a city of Magnesian territory, which is beside the river. And the coastal voyage of Ambrakia is of 120 stades.
    Plutarch made no mention of the language spoken by the Epirotes, but according to him it was not Greek:

    Of the Thesprotians and Molossians after the great flood, the first king, according to some historians, was Phaethon, one of those who came into Epirus with Pelasgus. Others tell us that Deucalion and Pyrrha, having set up the worship of Jupiter at Dodona, settled there among the Molossians. In after time, Neoptolemus, Achilles's son, planting a colony, possessed these parts himself, and left a succession of kings, who, after him, was named Pyrrhidae, as he in his youth was called Pyrrhus, and of his legitimate children, one was born of Lanassa, daughter of Cleodaeus, Hyllus's son, had also that name. From him Achilles came to have divine honours in Epirus, under the name of Aspetus, in the language of the country.
    It doesn't make any sense that Plutarch was invoking a Greek language in Epirus. He is surely referring to a language, completely unintelligible to the Greeks of his time. Of great importance is the mention of Pelasgians, who have been the very ancient people of that country. Therefore, Epirotes might be considered as Pelasgian's seeds.

  9. #9

    Re: Epirotes - Their ethnic affinity

    Kafir Bey, your claim doesn't hold any water since most of old sources ascribes Epirus as Greek land. Here is one of them:

    Originally posted by Pausanias, 1.11

    So Pyrros was the first to cross over against Rome from mainland Greece, and even so he went over only because he was called in by Tarentum”
    Pausanias is clearly referring to Epirus as Greece, as he expressively point that Pyrrus passed from Greece to southern Italy. Archeologists have yielded an abundance of Greek artifacts providing beyond any doubt the Greek character of the region we are speaking about. Even the Molossian decrees were written in Greek, which strengthen my view that Epirotes were one of the Greek tribes. Its true that Epirus lack from Greek political entities like polis, but this is not to deny their Greek character. Eutropius sees Epirus as contiguous to Greece:
    Pyrrhus alone was thought to be in Epirus and the rest of Greece.
    I have not found any single source so far, which would imply that Greeks were Illyrians, as you make them out.
    Last edited by Μακεδόνας; 2012-09-25 at 12:45 PM.

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    Progressing Member Kafir Bey's Avatar
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    Re: Epirotes - Their ethnic affinity

    Quote Originally Posted by Μακεδόνας View Post
    Pausanias is clearly referring to Epirus as Greece, as he expressively point that Pyrrus passed from Greece to southern Italy.
    You have conveniently missed Pausanias. He made abundantly clear that Pyrrhus conquered the colony of Corcyra (modern Corfu) and from there he managed to pass over Italy.

    [1.11.6] The first Greeks that Pyrrhus attacked on becoming king were the Corcyraeans.

    Originally posted by Makedonas

    Archeologists have yielded an abundance of Greek artifacts providing beyond any doubt the Greek character of the region we are speaking about.
    To what artifacts are you speaking to? I firmly maintain that Greek elements were imported as a result of the ruling elite:
    Tharrhypas is said to have been the first, who by introducing Greek manners and learning, and humane laws into his cities, left any fame of himself.

    Plutarch's Parallel Lives
    Originally posted by Makedonas

    Even the Molossian decrees were written in Greek...
    It implies nothing about the vernacular language of the rest of Epirotes. The fact that Greek is confined only in the narrow circles of elite and administrate makes plain that Greek wasn't the original language of Epirus.

    Originally posted by Makedonas

    Eutropius sees Epirus as contiguous to Greece
    You're completely unable to process anything. Ancient geographers leave no doubt that Epirus wasn't part of Greece. Thessalians were deemed as the most northerly Greeks:

    Strabo 11.14.12.

    ἔδει μὲν γὰρ αὐτοῖς ἐπιθέτου κόσμου τοιούτου τινός, οἱ δὲ Θετταλοὶ μάλιστα βαθυστολοῦντες, ὡς εἰκός, διὰ τὸ πάντων εἶναι Ἑλλήνων βορειοτάτους καὶ ψυχροτάτους νέμεσθαι τόπους ἐπιτηδειοτάτην παρέσχοντο μίμησιν τῇ τῶν ὑποκριτῶν διασκευῇ ἐν τοῖς ἀναπλάσμασιν·

    "The Thessalians in particular wore long robes, probably because they of all the Greeks lived in the most northerly and coldest region".
    This assertion may be perfectly corroborated with the testimony of Ephorus:

    Ἔφορος μὲν οὖν ἀρχὴν εἶναι τῆς Ἑλλάδος τὴν Ἀκαρνανίαν φησὶν ἀπὸ τῶν ἑσπερίων μερῶν· ταύτην γὰρ συνάπτειν πρώτην τοῖς Ἠπειρωτικοῖς ἔθνεσιν.

    Ephorus says that, if one begins with the western parts, Acarnania is the beginning of Greece; for, he adds, Acarnania is the first to border on the tribes of the Epeirotes
    originally posted by Makedonas

    I have found any single source which would imply that Greeks were Illyrians, as you make them out
    That's because you made no attempt to search in depth that matter. It's again Strabo who saw no difference between Illyrians and Epirotes. But at the same time, he clearly distinguishes them from Greeks:

    μετὰ μὲν οὖν τοὺς Ἠπειρώτας καὶ τοὺς Ἰλλυριοὺς τῶν Ἑλλήνων Ἀκαρνᾶνές εἰσι καὶ Αἰτωλοὶ καὶ Λοκροὶ οἱ Ὀζόλαι·

    After the Epeirotes and the Illyrians, then, come the following peoples of the Greeks: the Acarnanians, the Aetolians, and the Ozolian Locrians...
    Last edited by Kafir Bey; 2012-09-25 at 12:44 PM.

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    Moderator Thracian's Avatar
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    Re: Epirotes - Their ethnic affinity

    I managed to compile a moderate display of modern scholars about Epirus. I have utilized certain pages, forums and online libraries.

    Source 1:

    Robert Browning's Medieval and Modern Greek, 1983, p. 2, n. 7: "The language of the Epirotes is repeatedly described in antiquity as non-Greek (Thucydides 1.47, 1.51, 2.80, Strabo, 8.1.3). Yes the Epirotes were connected with the origin of various Greek communities. There may well have been an ethnic and linguistic mixture in Epirus, some tribes speaking Greek, others Illyrian or some other language (cf. Hammond (1967) 423; Katičić (1976) 120-7)"
    Source 2:

    Graham Shipley's The Greek World after Alexander, 2000, p. 111 "The Arrian passage reminds us of an important fact of Macedonia's location: its neighbours - Thracians, Paionians, Epirotes and Illyrians - were primarily non-urban peoples with more or less hellenized elites."
    Source 3:

    Michael Grant, Rachel Kitzinger, Civilization of the ancient Mediterranean: Greece and Rome: Volume 1, 1988, p. 203: "On the other hand, Thucydides (1.47.3, 5o-3) and Strabo (7.7.1) call the Epirotes barbaroi: only two of Thucydides' (2.80) northern chieftains have Greek names and many Epirote tribes did not speak Greek (Strabo 7.7.1) and even enjoyed...
    Source 4:

    Ronald Edward Latham, In quest of civilization, Jarrolds limited, 1946, p. 247, chapter "Trying to be Greeks": On the fringe of Hellas, and not yet fully accepted as Greeks even in name, lived the Epirotes and the Macedonians. Though these were being progressively Hellenized by contact with Greek colonies on the coast and their rulers claimed descent from legendary Greek heroes, the Greeks still regarded them, as the more civilized Chinese regarded the Ch'in,
    Source 5:

    The Historians' History of the World: Greece to the Peloponnesian war, Henry Smith Williams, 1904, p. 111: "In later times more than half of Aetolia ceased to be Grecian, and without doubt adopted the manners and language of the Illyrians, from which point the Athamanes, an Epirote and Illyrian nation, pressed into the south of Thessaly. "
    Source 6:

    The Albanians: An ethnic history from prehistoric times to the present, Edwin.Jaques, 1995, pp. 80-81: 'In October 1984, 70 historians and archaeologists from Greece, Albania, Romania, Italy and several other countries of Europe convened in Clermont-Ferrand, France. They held a colloquium with a group of Specialists in ancient history who were working there under the direction of Proffesor Pierre Kaban, the renowned expert on Epirus. They compared studies on the tribal and ethnic groups which gradually organised into urban life, then federated into state organisations. They compared juridical institutions such as family right of ownership, the role of the woman in the family and the procedure in freeing slaves. Similarities of Epirotes centers like Dodona and those of Southern Illyria were evidenced by the layout, architecture, and political organisation, also the circulation of coins, the structure of groves, the burial rites and articles found in the tumuli. But scholars concluded that from early antiquity until the Roman times THAT CULTURE OF SOUTHERN ILLYRIA AND EPIRUS, INCLUDING MOLOSSIA, WAS QUITE DIFFERENT FROM THAT OF CLASSICAL GREECE AS FOUND IN ATHENS AND SPARTA'
    Source 7:

    Library of Universal History: Ancient history, Israel Smith Clare, 1906, p. 706: During the entire historical period Epirus was more Illyrian than Greek.
    Source 8:

    Epirus; a study in Greek constitutional development, Baron Geoffrey Neale Cross Cross of Chelsea - 1932, p. 2: "My own view — for what it is worth — is that of the three big Epirot tribes the Chaones were definitely non-Greek (their name appears again in the form Chones among the Iapygians of Apulia who appear to have been allied to the Illyrians "
    Source 9:

    Academic American encyclopedia, Volume 7, Charles W. Fornara, Grolier, 1997: Epirus was an ancient region of Greece, located in what is now Albania and northwestern Greece, with Illyria to the north, the Pindus mountains to the east, and the Gulf of Ambracia (near Preveza) to the south. The region was barbarous in early Greek times and famous primarily for the oracle at Dodona (in southern Epirus) with its sacred oak tree and cult of Zeus. The oracle was much consulted throughout ancient times. The region became Hellenized through contact with Corcyra (Korfu) and Ambracia, but it did not become important until Alexander, king of Molossia (in Epirus) and brother-in-law of Philip II of Macedonia, unified the Epirotes.
    Source 10:

    Martin Persson Nilsson, Cults, myths, oracles, and politics in ancient Greece: with two appendices : the Ionian phylae, the phratries, P. Åström, 1986, p. 105: The inhabitants were not Greeks 15 and the chief tribes were the Thesprotians, the Chaonians, and the Molossians. Epirus never played any part in history except for the reign of king Pyrrhos, a condottiere who simply used his inherited kingdom as a starting point for his ambitious enterprises. The knowledge of the country reached the Greeks from...During the fifth century BC the Epirotes were drawn into Greek politics and began to be hellenized 16. This brought it about that the genealogy of their royal house was carried back into the Greek mythical age.
    Source 11:

    Dumbarton Oaks, Dumbarton Oaks studies, Volume 9, Issue 1, Harvard University Press, 1966, p. 151: The penetration of the Illyrians into northern Greece in the twelfth century BC led to the decay of the flourishing Mycenaean culture and to a complete upheaval in Greek political history. First, Epirus and Aetolia were engulfed by the wave of the Illyrian invasion. Epirus which had been in greater part Hellenized and whose religious center was the sanctuary of Zeus in Dodona, became once more Illyrian. Aetolia, a flourishing land in Homeric times, lapsed into almost complete barbarism. A great many of the Aetolians crossed the Corinthian Gulf, subjected the native Greek population, and settled in the land which became known as Elis
    Source 12:

    The early age of Greece: Volume 1, Sir William Ridgeway, 1901, p. 352: The Illyrians and Thracians proper all tattooed, as did the ancient Mycenians; there is evidence to show that there was a large Illyrian element in Epirus, where, as we saw above (p.94), there were many tribes which called themselves Pelasgian…We have seen that there was no sharp line between the speech of Illyrians and Thesprotians or Thessalians
    Source 13:

    Jakob Aall Ottesen Larsen, Greek federal states: their institutions and history, Clarendon P., 1968, p. 90: “Acarnania, like other states of the kind, was the result of conquest by an invading host. The conquest might well have resulted in a mixed population in which any non-Greek elements would be likely to be Illyrian. Actually there are a number of Illyrian place names in Acarnania, but they are relatively few".
    Source 14:

    The McGraw-Hill encyclopedia of world biography, p.409: Philip contracted an alliance with Neoptolemos, king of the Illyrian Molossians, and married his daughter Olympias in 357 B.C.
    Source 15:

    The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 1, 1987, p. 212: Many tumuli (burial mounds) containing Illyrian objects made of bronze and iron were discovered at Glasinac (Bosnia), Koman (Albania), and other parts of southeastern Europe. At the height of their expansion the Illyrians extended their frontiers from the Danube River to the Gulf of Ambracia and from the Adriatic Sea to the Shar Mountains.

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    Moderator Thracian's Avatar
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    Re: Epirotes - Their ethnic affinity

    External links:

    Source 1:

    From a classical Greek point of view, the northwest of Greece was inhabited by a bunch of barbarian tribes, in which the fifth-century sources are nor really interested. They contradict each other about which nations could be classified as western Greeks, Epirotes, or Illyrians. It does not really help us that the tribes did not leave behind written texts. Several sanctuaries, like Dodona, appear to have been hellenized quite early, but the people of the northwest retained some archaic traits. Several tribes were led by kings, something that was very unusual in the Greek world. On the other hand, the nearby Macedonians shared some of these characteristics.

    http://www.livius.org/ps-pz/pyrrhus/pyrrhus01.html
    Source 2:

    The territory of Epirus was the mountainous coastal region of modern north-western Greece and southern Albania. To the north was Illyria and to the east Macedonia. To the Greeks the Epirotes were barbarians, although their ancestry was Dorian. Epirus was a poor land, rich only in warriors. The dominant tribe of Epirus were the Molossians. The only Epirotes whom the Greeks regarded as Greek were the Aeacidae, royal house of the Molossians. Pyrrhus was a member of this family. The Aeacidae claimed descent from Achilles. Olympias, wife of Philip II of Macedon and mother of Alexander the Great, was an Aeacidae princess; making Pyrrhus a cousin of Alexander. In 334BC, when Alexander the Great began his conquest of the Persian Empire, the King of Epirus, Alexander the Molossian (uncle of Pyrrhus), attempted to conquer southern Italy. In 331BC he died in battle against the Romans. He was succeeded by Aeacides, father of Pyrrhus, but in 317BC Aeacides was driven from Epirus by a rebellion2. After this Epirus became a tribal federation instead of a kingdom.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A3533726

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    Moderator Thracian's Avatar
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    Re: Epirotes - Their ethnic affinity

    More sources...

    Source 1:

    The Illyrians: history and culture, Aleksandar Stipčević, 1977: "Willy Borgeaud, a most persistent and tireless searcher among Illyrian remains in Greece, asserted that Boeotia, Acarnania, Aetolia, Argos and Sparta were full of Illyrian toponymes."
    Source 2:

    Elizabeth Donnelly Carney, Olympias: mother of Alexander the Great, 2006, p. 140: "The degree of Hellenization of Molossia outside the royal family is debatable; see Whitley 2001: 400".
    Source 3:

    The Andromache and Euripidean Tragedy, William Allan, 2003, p. 154: "the names Tharyps and Sabylinthus are not Greek. It is a measure of the Molossians' absorption of heroic myth that later kings bore names drawn from the Trojan myth (the earliest inscriptions date from the reign of Neoptolemus in 370-368). Nilsson (1951) thinks this shows 'the overdone eagerness of a barbarian house to appear as heroic Greeks'. But they were just as ready to adopt Trojan names: e.g. Alexandros, Teucros (also Achaean, in Homer), Helenus.
    Source 4:

    An historical geography of Europe, 450 BC-AD 1330, N.J.G.Pounds, pp. 30-31: Epirus fromed no part of Greece, and in the fifth century Greek commerce and culture had made little impression upon its tribes. It is doubtful whether the tribes of Aetolia and Acarnania should be considered Greek, and even Homer's 'wooded Zacynthus' (Zante), 'rugged Ithaca', and 'sandy Pylos' lay on the margin of the Greek wrold in the age of Pericles. (...) Euripides described the Aetolian Tydeies, though a Greek, as 'half-barbarian'.
    Source 5:

    A History of Greece from the Earliest Period to the Close of the, volume 3, George Grote, 1882, p. 417:"...the coast of Epirus from the entrance of the Ambrakian gulf northward to the Akrokeraunian promontory, we shall find it discouraging to Grecian colonization. (...) we may understand why the Grecian emigrants omitted this unprofitable tract, and passed on either northward to the maritime plains of Illyria, or westward to Italy. In the time of Herodotus and Thucydides, there seems to have been no Hellenic settlement between Ambrakia and Apollonia.

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    Regular Member KING CUNOBELIN's Avatar
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    Re: Epirotes - Their ethnic affinity

    Quote Originally Posted by GeoMacedon View Post
    Linguistically they were Greeks, but very primitive ones. We must look at Epirotes as backward Greeks.
    Hi, while the Epirotes were more rural country people, I don't think it is helpful to call them "backward". They lived long before there were any "Greeks", who find their true roots in the Epirotes of Dodona, and so the modern Greeks should enjoy the elevation of Albania/Epirus rather than sustaining a transparent prejudice.

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    Moderator artistofthepast's Avatar
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    Re: Epirotes - Their ethnic affinity

    Quote Originally Posted by Nexhman View Post
    I would query that assumption on the ground that the ruling family in Epirus invented such myths as to facilitate the entrance in Greek world. I'm not questioning that Aecides embraced some Hellenic patterns, but the same goes also for other ruling elites among barbarian peoples in Mediterranean. Ancient sources makes it explicit that Epirot kings introduced Greek elements into their court.

    Had Epirus been Greek from the very inception, as some wants to make it out, ancients would not question his Hellenicity. During all the time, Epirotes were markedly different from Greeks, albeit a number of them got Hellenized. The claim that Epirotes have been Greeks does not reconcile with ancient sources, who constantly excluded them from Greeks either ethnically and geographically. The fact they received some Hellenism from 5th century B.C onward plainly means that they were non-Greeks, most likely Illyrians or cognates of them.
    Peoples’ way of identification can shift according to their location, which is always set to the background of a wider geopolitical and social context, and how it can be managed and contested in a particular social and cultural environment.

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    Average Member JMauri's Avatar
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    Re: Epirotes - Their ethnic affinity

    Many people travel back and forth all the time between and within rural and urban places, and this was very normal in the past. When moving through and within different places and settle there they reconfigure and redefine their own identity and origin, which most of the time became vague.

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    Re: Epirotes - Their ethnic affinity

    Quote Originally Posted by KING CUNOBELIN View Post
    Hi, while the Epirotes were more rural country people, I don't think it is helpful to call them "backward". They lived long before there were any "Greeks", who find their true roots in the Epirotes of Dodona, and so the modern Greeks should enjoy the elevation of Albania/Epirus rather than sustaining a transparent prejudice.
    In ancient times the Epirotes seem to have initially been regarded as Greeks, but during Middle Ages through the Modern Era they consistantly have been regarded as Albanians. There is no doubt about this. To me the ethnicity must be considered not permanant, it changes form and shape and therefore evolves in a qualitative stade that there is no room for comparision. Today the term Epirote makes no sense because is being fully replaced by Albanians who show solid bonds to Epirotes throughout all known history.

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    Sr. Member Zeus10's Avatar
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    Re: Epirotes - Their ethnic affinity

    Quote Originally Posted by Uranus View Post
    In ancient times the Epirotes seem to have initially been regarded as Greeks, but .............
    To be correct, no evidences shows any ethnic connection betwen Greeks and Epirotes during history. Furthermore the Greek nation is extremely new nation, which telling the truth was very eager to absorb within itself old nations, in order to pose itself as somehow linked to the old history, but that's just a pathetic hegemonistic effort.

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    Progressing Member OrionasGR7's Avatar
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    Re: Epirotes - Their ethnic affinity

    Hallo forumers and forum. It is great pleasure and honor for me to wright here, among so many people that share the same passion with me. And this passion is history.
    I saw all the comments and opinions and i found few mistakes and misunderstandigs. So i will try to make things a little bit easier for all of us, by writing quotes and put links for the books that i took the informations. I will start with the informations that we have from antiquity about Epirus.

    I will start from those that saw Epirus and Epirutes as Greeks(or Hellenes --after all its the same--).

    1)HERODOTUS
    In the books of Herodotus we can clearly see that Epirutes were part of the rest Greek people. But lets see the textes:

    126....Cleisthenes the son of Arisonymos,the son of Myron, the son of Andreas,
    had a daughter Agariste; and as to her he formed a desire to find out the best man of all Hellenes and assing her to him in marriage
    ....Then all those of Hellenes who had pride either in themselve or in their high descent came us wooers, and for them CLeisthenes had a running-course and a wrestling place made and kept them expreslly for their use.
    127. From Italy came Smindyrides the son of Hippocrates of Sybaris, who of all men on earth reached the highest point of luxury (now Sybaris at this time was in the height of its prosperity), and Damasos of Siris, the son of that Amyris who was called the Wise; these came from Italy: from the Ionian gulf came Amphimnestos the son of Epistrophos of Epidamnos, this man from the Ionian gulf: from Aitolia came Males, the brother of that Titormos who surpassed all the Hellenes in strength and who fled from the presence of men to the furthest extremities of the Aitolian land: from Peloponnesus, Leokedes the son of Pheidon the despot of the Argives, that Pheidon who established for the Peloponnesians the measures which they use, and who went beyond all other Hellenes in wanton insolence, since he removed from their place the presidents of the games appointed by the Eleians and himself presided over the games at Olympia,--his son, I say, and Amiantos the son of Lycurgos an Arcadian from Trapezus, and Laphanes an Azanian from the city of Paios, son of that Euphorion who (according to the story told in Arcadia) received the Dioscuroi as guests in his house and from thenceforth was wont to entertain all men who came, and Onomastos the son of Agaios of Elis; these, I say, came from Peloponnesus itself: from Athens came Megacles the son of that Alcmaion who went to Crœsus, and besides him Hippocleides the son of Tisander, one who surpassed the other Athenians in wealth and in comeliness of form: from Eretria, which at that time was flourishing, came Lysanias, he alone from Eubœa: from Thessalia came Diactorides of Crannon, one of the family of the Scopadai; and from the Molossians, Alcon.

    So, as we can clearly see, Herodotus puts an Epirote among the rest of Hellenes who went to the despot of Sykion, Cleisthenes, to claim his daughter. According to this, Epirotes were counting among the Greeks, at the age that this thing happened (200 years before the birth of Herodotus, this means 600 BC or at 7th century BC or 1 century later from the Homeric Epic Poems). But lets continue with another text from Herodotus and his book:

    But far most that is told about these people comes from the Delians. They say that holly offerings come wrapped in wheat straw from the Hyperboreans into Skythia, , and, after the Scythinas, each of their neighbors succesively forwards these offerings to the point furthest west, at the Adriatic, and, as they are then conveyed to the south, THE PEOPLE OF DODONA ARE THE FIRST GREEKS TO RECEIVE THEM...
    So i believe that is very clear that for Herodotus and his informers, Epirutes were Greeks!
    Lets move on

    2)Aristotle

    "The deluge in the time of Deucalion, for instance, took place chiefly in the Greek world and in it especially about ancient Hellas, the country about Dodona and the Achelous, a river which has often changed its course. Here the Selli dwelt and those who were formerly called Graeci and now Hellenes."

    At my opinion Aristotle gives us 2 ofthe most important and stunning informations. For the Greeks of his age, Epirus was their ancient Greece. And at this ancient place were dwellers that had the name Graeci (this word comes from the word γερος, γρέα--geros,grea and means old people or ancient people). These informations leave no place for doubts about the origin of Epirotes (at least for a part of them) and for the opinion that ancient Greeks had about Epirus.

    3)Claudius Ptolemy
    Since i wrote about the opinion of ancient about the view that they had about Eprius (ancient Greece*), i believe that i must continue with another important personality who wrote about this issue.

    "Greece starts at Oricus and the most ancient part of Greece is Epirus." Claudius Ptolemy, The Geographer
    So here we have the same view that we can see at Aristotle. I dont think that more comments are necessary here!

    4) Polybios
    "In the past you rivalled the Achaians and the Macedonians, peoples of your own race, and Philip, their commander, for the hegemony and glory, but now that the freedom of the Hellenes is at stake at a war against an alien people Romans, ...And does it worth to ally with the barbarians, to take the field with them against the Epeirotans, the Achaians, the Akarnanians, the Boiotians, the Thessalians, in fact with almost all the Hellenes with the exception of the Aitolians who are a wicked nation...
    Polybios 9.37.7

    This was a part from Lykiskos's speech at Spartians. Polybios recorded this speech in his book. As we can see Epirotes counted as Greeks, by the rest of of Greeks

    5)Eutropius

    "...Thus the ambassador of Pyrrhus returned; and, when Pyrrhus asked him "what kind of a place he had found Rome to be," Cineas replied, that "he had seen a country of kings, for that all there were such, as Pyrrhus alone was thought to be in Epirus and the rest of Greece."
    6)Pausanias

    we know of no Greek before Pyrros who fought against Rome.
    Pusanias 1.11


    7)Dionysius of Halicarnnasus

    "It was for this reason that Pyrrhus was defeated by the Romans also in a battle to the finish. For it was no mean or untrained army that he had, but the mightiest of those then in existence among the Greeks
    Dionysius of Halicarnnasus, Roman Antiquities, 19.11


    8)Procopius

    The first inhabitants are Greeks, those that are called Epirots. [They dwell] as far as the city of Epidamnus. which is situated on the sea.
    Procopious History of the Wars, 5.15.24


    9)Plutarch
    The case of Plutarch is the most misunderstood. I have seen many times to use Plutarch, as argument, to prove the non Greek origin of Epirutes. Weli, at my opinion, Plutarch gives few of the most stunning clues for the Greek origin of Epirutes. I will analyse this thesis with 3 arguments that derives from his work.

    α) Plutarch's work ha the name "Parallel Lives"(Παράλληλοι Βίοι). Τhis work has twenty-three pairs of biographies, each pair consisting of one Greek and one Roman. So it is very clear from this thing, that for Plutarch Pyrrhus was Greek.

    β)Here i will use the first lanes from the book of Plutarch for Pyrrhus, which gives us 2 very important information. I will mark these informations with star --> * , for easier reading and tracking. So lets see them:

    1 1 Historians tell us that the first king of the Thesprotians and Molossians after the flood was Phaethon, one of those who came into Epeirus with Pelasgus; but some say that Deucalion and Pyrrha established the sanctuary at Dodona and dwelt there among the Molossians. 2 In after time, however, Neoptolemus the son of Achilles, bringing a people with him, got possession of the country for himself, and left a line of kings descending from him. These were called after him Pyrrhidae; for he had the surname of Pyrrhus in his boyhood, and of his legitimate children by Lanassa, the daughter of Cleodaeus the son of Hyllus, one was named by him Pyrrhus. Consequently Achilles also obtained divine honours in Epeirus, under the native name of Aspetus*. 3 But the kings who followed in this line soon lapsed into barbarism** and became quite obscure, both in their power and in their lives, and it was Tharrhypas, historians say, who first introduced Greek customs and letters and regulated his cities by humane laws, thereby acquiring for himself a name. Alcetas was a son of Tharrhypas, Arybas of Alcetas, and of Arybas and Troas, Aeacides.

    * Here we have a very importnad info for the native language of Epirus. The word "Aspetos", that Plutarch says that is a name in the native language of Epirus, is an 100% Greek word. It derives from the Greek noon σπετός (spetos) which with the addition of the privative letter α-(a-) becomes "ασπετός"(aspetos= a+ spetos) and it means unspeakable. From the same noon (spetos) we have many other Greek wods like the word θεσπέσιος( thespesios = θεός+ σπετος ----theos {god} +spetos {speaker}) and it means divinely beautiful. I took these information about the words and their etymology from one of the best etymological dictionaries (page 752) of Greek language which has been written by the best linguist of Greek language of our age professor George Mpampiniotis (Γεώργιος Μπαμπινιώτης) and also from the vocabulary of anciet Greek language of Liddell and Scott (page 257).

    **The word barbarian has 2 meaning. One for the foreigner and one for the culturally inferiors. And this second meaning we have here at Plutarch (my opinion is that Thucydides, STrabo and Demosthenes used this word with the same meaning and not with the meaning of foreigner; but it is only my opinion). So at this lane Plutarch says that Epirotes LAPSED INTO BARBARISM and after this says that they come out of this situation only when Greek customs and letters brought there from Tharrhypas. It is enough clear that the word barbarism has nothing to do with the ethinc origin but the level of civilization. Actually Plutarch is not the first that gives us such an explanation. Isocrates also said exactly this thing in one of his speeches (i will post what he said when we will start to talk about this issue -if we ever start it-).

    So as we can see, the plurality of ancient authors knew that Epirotes were Greeks. I believe that the testimonies that i brought here, confirm my thesis about this issue.
    At my next post i will write about Thucydides, Strabon and about the modern scientist (historians, archaeologists and linguists).I believe that their testimonies (i mean the modern scientists) will close this issue and will help everyone to understand the origin and the unique occasion of Epirus.

    Thanks a lot everyone who has the patience to read all these evidences and clues. I hope and wish that helps all of u to understand the issue of the origin fo Epirutes. So bb for now and "to be continue..."

    PS: Excuse me, but i couldnt post links. I dont have the right since this is my 1st post. Soon i will give u the links. You can search them alone if u want at google books. U can find all the texts there.

  20. #20
    Progressing Member OrionasGR7's Avatar
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    Re: Epirotes - Their ethnic affinity

    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus10 View Post
    To be correct, no evidences shows any ethnic connection betwen Greeks and Epirotes during history. Furthermore the Greek nation is extremely new nation, which telling the truth was very eager to absorb within itself old nations, in order to pose itself as somehow linked to the old history, but that's just a pathetic hegemonistic effort.



    U are funny

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